The Inn Collection Group

The Inn Collection Group is expanding the network of hotels it operates. After site agents identified potential hotels in York and the Lake District they appointed Method BC to undertake surveys to establish the condition, quantify repairs that are required and comment on any practical issues for the sites considering their future plans. We worked with Mechanical and Electrical Engineers who reviewed the condition and compliance of all the heating, ventilation, power and alarm installations so that we could present a thorough picture of the condition of the trading hotels to allow an informed decision to be made in the purchase process.

Buying hotels is often a sensitive and emotional business with vendors wishing to maintain secrecy until matters are concluded. We undertook our surveys with discretion avoiding unnecessary disruption to customers and staff.
Louise Stewart, Director of Property at the Inn Collection Group said:

Ben and his team at Method provide us with a significant amount of reassurance through the process of buying these hotels. Their straightforward advice allows us to make some important decisions.

The Inn Collection Group has more than 31 sites across Northumberland, County Durham, the Lake District, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear and North Wales, taking its room tally from 271 to more than 1,000. It was recently sold to a new company for circa £300m.

All four hotels were independently owned prior to the Inn Collection Group acquiring them. The common theme between them is that the owners had reached a point where they no longer wanted to have the lifestyle of running an owner-operator hotel due to their age or a change in circumstances.

All four buildings are either listed or in conservation areas. As such, they are part of the local community and attract a lot of interest.

Dean Court Hotel

The property has been assembled by joining together three separate structures on the corner of Duncombe Place and Petergate. We estimate that the main central section of the property was constructed in the mid-19th century. Information provided by the seller indicated that they were originally constructed as town houses for the clergy of the adjacent York Minster.

In 1969, the Washington family bought the property and, in 1978, acquired the adjoining property. It was on the site of a medieval cottage and had a mock-Georgian front bolted on… In 1986 three business partners bought Dean Court and this cottage, which was then integrated into the main building. It was during this conversion that the mock-Georgian frontage was revealed and almost disintegrated!

The hotel has 40 en-suite bedrooms.

Glenridding Hotel

The hotel has been extended and adapted over time. When looking at the hotel from the front, the left-hand section is the original building dating most likely from the 1860’s. This has been extended to the right, at the turn of the 20th century. A further extension has been added in the 1950s.

The more recent extension known as The Bridge House Conference Suite is constructed with Lakeland stone. Planning application history shows that the first floor was extended in 1993 to build out over an existing balcony. The pool extension was granted planning permission in 1991. The roof space was converted into ‘conference facilities’ in 1990.
We understand that The Glenridding Hotel was originally a temperance hotel known as The Mill Crest Hotel. We have found historic images from the 1930s which show the property with a sign indicating this as “The Mill Crest Hotel”.

The hotel has 36 en-suite bedrooms.

Lake House

Historical maps first show this property on a map dated 1897. The property was labelled Gill Head on the 1897 map and then subsequently labelled Ghyll Head on a 1912 map. Earlier maps dating to 1859 do not show the property. In the late 19th Century wealthy merchants and coal mine owners developed homes in the Windermere area for recreational purposes. It is likely therefore that this building was originally constructed for this purpose.

The hotel has 19 bedrooms (12 in the main house and 7 in the adjoining annex).

Regent Hotel

This is a Lakeland hotel that has been extended and adapted over time. The building extends out at the rear around a courtyard design. This section of the property was most likely constructed in the 1980s and has been extended more recently. A further annex building at the rear of the site was constructed in the 1980s and provides additional self-contained units.

When reviewing historic maps for this site we noted the presence of a property on this plot back to the oldest maps we had available of 1859. This labelled both the subject property and the Wateredge House Hotel on the other side of the road as one entity known as Wateredge House. Both properties could have been constructed at the same time under the same ownership. From maps dating from the 1920s onwards the subject property is labelled differently and known as Westmeria. This only shows the original old section of the property and the southern single storey extension that abuts the main road. The courtyard building and annex building is not shown on this 1920s map. Based on the architecture we estimate that the main building was redeveloped at the turn of the 20th century. The oldest section of the property therefore remains the single storey section adjacent to the main road with bedroom accommodation in the loft space. This is likely to date back to the 1850s or slightly earlier.

The hotel has 35 bedrooms.

As Building Surveyors’, we look for several things when carrying out a building survey. We are being asked to comment on the condition of the fabric of the property – the roofs, walls, floors, windows etc so that our client will buy the property with detailed knowledge of likely repair and maintenance costs. However, when advising a hospitality client, we also need to consider the operational side of the business that will be operating from the building we are surveying. Repairs that are needed to a building that would normally be dealt with over a medium term may need dealing with earlier if they potentially pose a risk to stopping trade or pose a health and safety risk to staff and members of the public. We are also mindful of legislation and compliance matters from an occupational perspective. This changes regularly and we need to keep abreast of this. Sustainability and energy conservation and disabled access are examples of this.

We also work with Mechanical and Electrical engineers to see what repairs and upgrading works are needed. This can be dovetailed with our advice on improvements to the fabric of the building so they are planned for at the same time.
A survey will typically take 4-6 hours on site and then it will depend on how much research and investigations are needed to draft the reports. The survey is always just part of the overall transaction, so we always work to the timeframes needed. This often involves discussions with the lawyers to clarify legal issues that relate to the land and property.
We use drone photography or video to help us in our assessment of a building. It increases the speed at which we can survey and our ability to look at the buildings from all angles safely. For example, it would have been impossible to use an access platform on the Glenridding site without a road closure.

Buildings in the lake district are often constructed with Lakeland stone. This is where an inner leaf of stone abuts an outer leaf of decorative thin layers of stone with a green hue packed together. The sheer thickness of the wall provides the weatherproofing. In extreme weather over a prolonged period damp can pass through the walls. Modern conversions will deal with this by dry lining the internal walls. The inner leaf and outer leaf should be tied together. We check for this to see if the walls are bulging.

Buildings like these have invariably been adapted and extended. We will look at how the different architecture and methods of construction have been tied together and comment on how one may affect the other. We are wary of small projects that have been led directly by occupiers and builders without input from architects or engineers.

As with any commercial property transaction, it is essential to move quickly to ensure another party doesn’t come along and make an offer and/or the seller finds a reason to pull out. It is always good to keep the pressure on. In this case, we produced the reports within a week of the surveys. We also had a few calls where we presented our findings with a photo slideshow to explain the important issues early.

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